Vasco fishermen accuse Navy of harassment


 Traditional fishermen from Vaddem on Saturday accused the Navy of harassing them while they go to fish in canoes at Vaddem beach. 
Speaking to Herald, the fishermen alleged that the Navy personnel, who are supposed to carry out patrolling beyond the 5 nautical miles, destroy our nets which arecast within 200 meters from the beach. 
“We do not even cross 200 metres as we fish crabs, Chonak, Palu and other fish, as these fish come towards the shore,” said one fisherman, Xavier Dias. 
“The moment we cast our nets in the sea close to the shore, the Navy arrives in their petrol vessel armed with stones come and drive us away. At times, they have even pelted stones at us.” 
“The stones pelted at us have even hit the canoes and have got trapped in the nets, thereby damaging our wooden canoes and our nets. We have been earning our daily bread through the sale of fish which is being caught by us at Vaddem beach,” he added.
Another fisherman, Francis Coutinho, claimed that they have been involved in the fishing occupation for many generations.
 “If the Navy harasses us and drives us away from fishing at Vaddem beach, we will be jobless and won’t be able to support our families,” said Coutinho.
Yet another fisherman, Gracias Coutinho, stated that they have all permissions from the fisheries department.
“Even if we show the permissions, the Navy personnel present on the patrol vessel take our documents and returns them only the next day. Sometimes, they even demand the fish we have caught and after parting away with our catch, they keep quiet for sometimes, only to harass us after some time. We request the government and the local MLA to look into the matter and find some solution to our grievances,” he said.
When contacted, Navy PRO Cdr PK Prabhala initially stated that he did not wish to comment on the issue. 
Cdr Prabhala later claimed that the fishermen did not have bio-metric cards with them and added that the Goa government had directed them keep a check on fishing activities in the area. [H]